LONDON (AP) — Two days after Claudio Ranieri’s firing, Leicester players went on the defensive on Saturday to insist they didn’t play any role in the manager behind their astonishing English Premier League title triumph losing his job.

“There is speculation I was involved in his dismissal and this (is) completely untrue, unfounded and is extremely hurtful!” striker Jamie Vardy wrote on Instagram. ” The only thing we are guilty of as a team is underachieving which we all acknowledge both in the dressing room and publicly and will do our best to rectify.”

The social media posts and interviews followed a noticeable lack of tributes from the championship-winning players in the day after Ranieri’s firing. They came as Leicester’s fight for top-flight survival became tougher, with the team sinking into the relegation zone of the league they won barely nine months ago due to Saturday’s results going against them.

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Leicester’s Thai owners were reported to have consulted key players before dismissing Ranieri on Thursday.

“We are players and we can only affect (things) on the pitch, what happens above our heads at boardroom level is completely out of our control,” goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel told the BBC. “All these reports about meetings, I don’t know where they’ve come from. What I can say is our owners are very hands on. They are in and around the club all the time.

“They come to practically every game, they come to the training ground and they speak to all the players regularly. We talk to them about all manner of things from the weather to the pitches to whatever. These guys are very successful businessmen and have taken this club from the bottom of the Championship to the top. They’re not going to let themselves be influenced by any players.”

Many of those…